The “Meet the Farmers” programme held at the Radisson Blu Hotel Ikeja-Lagos on 5th January 2019 was organized by HEDA Resource Centre with support from OXFAM. As a food safety /regulatory affairs consultant and GLOBALG.A.P. Licensed farm assurer, I felt it was an opportunity for connection with stakeholders in the agriculture sector. That was partially correct but the main focus was connecting politicians with farmers through the Farmers’ Manifesto/Petition 2018 that enumerated farmers’ expectations concerning agriculture which I found quite innovative. The event was a huge success with speeches, presentations that included the “Evolution of the Nigerian Agriculture Sector “buttressed with relevant data and the “Effect of Climate Change on the Activities of Small Holder Farmers” which includes deforestation, erosion, drying up of rivers while homes are flooding! There were useful discussions and at the end of it all, I left the event with a reignited believe in Nigeria and its innovative, resourceful, intelligent and persistent people with a “can do” spirit that enables them push forward despite the challenges.
The programme was focused on engaging politicians in signing the Farmers Manifesto/Petition 2018 which outlined farmers’ challenges, needs and priorities presented to the Lagos State governorship aspirants which included the governorship aspirants of APC and PDP amongst others and also a presidential aspirant. All the aspirants were articulate and clear on the position of agriculture in their manifestoes which appeared aligned with that of the farmers and is a positive development. It was therefore no surprise that all the aspirants signed the Farmers Manifesto/Petition with photoshoots after their short speeches on what they plan to do for farmers. The farmers reminded the politicians that they now have evidence of their acceptance of the farmers’ manifesto which the farmers are determined to follow up on and hold them accountable for delivery on their promises by whomever emerges as the governor of Lagos State.
The key agricultural commodities with extensive farmer participation in Nigeria include roots & tubers (cassava, yam, potato and cocoyam), grains (rice, maize, soybeans, millet and sorghum); livestock (cattle, sheep and Goat); poultry; tree crops(oil palm, cocoa, coconut, orange etc.) and fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes, cabbage, carrot, cucumber, leafy vegetables (Telferia or pumpkin etc.)
The farmers observed amongst other things that:
Farmers categorized their concerns as follows:
The challenges identified in the agriculture value chain included:
After all said and done, the farmers are watching and would follow up on the politicians, holding them responsible and accountable for implementation of the signed farmers’ manifesto in Lagos State and Nigeria by extension since Lagos is the preferred destination of food for domestic consumption and for export due to its large population and the presence of the largest seaport in the country.